AEDs: A Standard of Care

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Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) have become a contentious issue across North America and whether businesses should be required to provide such a service to their clients in need. What is truly at issue is whether large retail establishments have a duty to provide AEDs in times of need to clients. 

Standard of CareAED’s Explained

Automated external defibrillators are small, light and compact battery operated and portable devices that can save lives. The device includes sticky pads with electrodes that attach to a person’s chest when they are experiencing sudden cardiac arrest otherwise known as a heart attack. This easy to use machine can even be operated by someone with no experience. Easy to understand instructions explain to connect the electrodes to the person’s chest, while the machine reads the person’s heartbeat and decides whether an electric shock is needed. If a shock is required the machine uses voice prompts to tell you when to give the shock. These devices have proven effective in saving lives if used within 3 to 5 minutes of cardiac arrest. Good Samaritan laws in every state and the federal Cardiac Arrest Survival Act (CASA) provide protection for untrained bystanders that use an AED to help save a life. For business owners it would be wise to provide training to staff that may have to use them.

Using an AED

There are number of cautions to be taken before using an AED. If a person has collapsed or fainted, the following procedures should be followed before applying an AED. First you need to confirm that the person is unresponsive by shouting at them or shaking them (except infants or young child) to ensure they are not sleeping. Immediately call 911 or have another person that is present do so. Checking the person for vital signs is important before applying in AED. Check to ensure that the person is breathing or has a pulse. If breathing or a pulse is absent or a regular prepare to use in AED immediately. After an AED is applied, CPR should be used continuously until EMS arrives, checking the person’s heart rate with the AED every two minutes.

Common-Law Duty

Large venues, government institutions and large retailers are finding themselves in need of providing AED’s on-site in busy locations. As of 2012 there have been over 56 state introduced legislative bills requiring some aspect of AED regulation. Oregon has the most widely AED distributed law requiring any business over 50,000 square feet and more than 25 visitors per day to have an AED device on-site. 10 states have introduced or passed legislation to mandate that AEDs be located within fitness facilities. 17 states have either mandated or encourage placement of AED’s in all public schools. A number of other AED legislative bills address training of staff, placement in places of public assembly and placement during large public events. As the legislative horizon broadens for AED’s, the aspect of common law duty of retailers will start to take shape. The question whether or not busy retailers should provide a standard of care that includes AEDs is not a question whether they should but is apparent that in the long term will become a matter of when.

Instituting AED Care

There are already examples where large multinational corporations or chain stores are implementing AED’s throughout locations to ensure a standard of care for their clients. London Drugs and LA Fitness are two companies that have instituted this policy. This issue is currently before the California Supreme Court in a case that has drawn wide speculation and interest from the community, business interests and government. Providing for the care of your clients may not be a legal obligation at this point but most assuredly is an ethical one.

Finding quality medical device suppliers should be your first consideration when considering installing AED’s in your branch locations, but be assured within a short amount of time AED’s will become more prevalent amongst retailers.

Written by John Gladstein. John is passionate about lowering the cost of healthcare for medical professionals.

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